Atrial fibrillation (also called A-fib, or AF) is a heart rhythm disorder that is characterized by a rapid and irregular beating of the heart’s upper chambers (the atria), which results in weaker contractions that lead to poor blood flow. Also, the patient’s pulse doesn’t correspond to the heartbeat.
Ideally, the upper chambers and lower chambers of the heart receive normal signals that start each heartbeat. The chambers then send blood to the rest of your body. With atrial fibrillation, however, you have a higher risk of developing blood clots in the atria: If a blood clot forms in the left-hand atrium, you are at a particularly high risk of having a stroke, because the clot could dislodge and travel right to the brain.
That causes a stroke. In fact, most strokes that come from the heart originate from the upper-left chamber (atrium).
A-fib may not always cause symptoms; however, those who do experience symptoms report a fluttering in the chest area, palpitations, chest pain, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and fatigue. If you have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, your doctor will work with you to reduce your risk of having a stroke and other complications, such as heart failure.
Why Atrial Fibrillation Increases Stroke Risk
With atrial fibrillation, the signals in the upper chambers are chaotic. This results in weaker contractions and an inconsistent heartbeat. This causes a tendency of the blood to pool and clot in the heart’s upper chambers, because the contractions are weak and do not push all of the blood out through the arteries.
Any type of clotting can block normal blood flow, and a clot may break away and travel to other organs. People with atrial fibrillation have a five-fold greater risk of stroke across all age groups.
How to Reduce Stroke Risk if You Have A-fib
There are ways to reduce stroke risk after being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Following a healthy lifestyle can improve your heart health. Diabetes and high blood pressure can double your risk of having a stroke, so these should be controlled via medication and healthy habits.
To reduce your risk of having a stroke if you have atrial fibrillation:
- Eat heart-healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts)
- Have regular visits with your doctor to monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Maintain a normal weight
- Quit smoking
- Reduce or eliminate your alcohol intake
Neurosurgeon in Lone Tree, CO
An experienced neurosurgeon can help prevent you from having a stroke, which is a result from a blood clot that may be due to atrial fibrillation. Here at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery, we practice patient-centric care and work with you in order to achieve optimum health. Don’t wait another day to have your condition evaluated and to start treatment.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our outstanding neurosurgeons, contact our friendly staff today by calling us at (303) 790-1800 or by filling out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to serving you!